Thursday, February 2, 2012

Diverted to Guayaquil

Our destination here in Ecuador is a town two hours north of Quito. We're not there yet.

Our flights yesterday from Seattle to Atlanta to the skies above Quito were uneventful. Then the fog arrived in Quito. The city is at 9,000 feet, in a valley surrounded by mountains, with an old airport with a short runway. Pilots must use a visual rather than an instrumental approach. At 11 p.m. planes were stacked up at various altitudes, waiting for the fog to clear enough to land. After 45 minutes, we were low enough on fuel that we had to divert to Guayaquil, on the coast, half an hour away by air.

Once on the tarmac, we waited for two hours for news of clearing at Quito. Finally we got it. We took off, with three other jets, and again stacked in the Quito skies for an hour of circling. Fog worsened. We diverted again to Guayaquil. Left the plane with only our carry-ons, went through immigration, climbed onto buses for a hotel. We're being put up by Delta, and we're going to make another try for Quito tonight.

All part of the adventure of travel. My only problem, if you can call it that, was that we'd arranged for a driver from our first night Quito hotel, to pick us up at the airport. I found a passenger with an operating cellphone and fluency in Spanish to call the hotel three times from airport tarmacs and explain what we were doing. The last call was at 6 a.m. to say we wouldn't be there, but we probably would be tonight, and could we make a reservation? We'd also made arrangements for a driver to pick us up at the Quito hotel this morning to take us to our final destination. That required another phone call. This one in English, but from the lobby of our Guayaquil hotel.

For people headed to the Galapagos Islands to meet a group, this is a major inconvenience. If they could get their luggage from the plane, they could leave from Guayaquil. But the Ecuadorian immigration people have said no, we have to wait until we get to Quito.

Guayaquil is a tropical city - 69 degrees at 4 a.m. and much warmer as the day goes by. The carry-on has a long sleeved knit top for the higher elevation. Oh, well! And only blush and lipstick, and no electronics chargers. But oh, well to that, too!

Sometimes the journey is part of what I remember about our trips. This is one of them, apparently.

14 comments:

Blissed-Out Grandma said...

Spoken like a true adventurer. And better safe in Guayaquil than trying to land on a short runway in dense fog.

Retired English Teacher said...

I agree, you are the true adventurer. I'm all about safety. I can live with inconvenience.

It is hard to know what to put in the carry-on. Sometimes that is the hardest part of packing for me.

Teresa Evangeline said...

Well, have fun wherever you are. Are you going to the Galapagos? I've always thought that sounded like a great adventure and oh-so-interesting.

Linda Myers said...

No Galapagos on this trip. It would set the budget back by about $5,000.

We're using credit card points for the airfare and trading houses with another couple, so this is really a budget trip.

Perpetua said...

Safe travelling, Linda. you'll get there in the end and it will be worth all the hassle.

Terra said...

Wow, you are having an adventure, and I see fun ahead for you.

DJan said...

That is a really hard thing to experience: not being able to find a person you are trying to hook up with, given the language barrier and everything else. I'm sure it will all work out, but I look forward excitedly to find out HOW! :-)

Daniel said...

Linda....the UIO runway is not "short"....it is 10,200 feet long! I was on the flight with you and we did not to land visually....there IS an instrument approach to Quito, the
problem is the forward visibility or lack thereof, not enabling a landing.

Our plane, a 737-700, can land in low visibility, but there has to be a minimum forward visibility to see the runway to land whether you're in Hong Kong, Peoria or Quito.

#1Nana said...

One of the great things about retirement is that we have more flexibility in our schedules so we can be open to these unplanned opportunities. I hope you have a wonderful time and get lots of opportunities to practice your Spanish.

MerCyn said...

Sounds like the start of a great adventure. Enjoy whatever you do and wherever you go!

Linda Myers said...

Daniel, thanks for the information. I have no idea who you are and how you found my blog! Just another little Twilight Zone event to add to this experience.

Out on the prairie said...

Laughed thinking about your driver. I had a flight delay and no phone,only overhearing a mother say the car rentals closed at 1/2 hour before our arrival. i had to borrow a pink phone covered in bling to redirect my car.

Jenn Flynn-Shon said...

All in the spirit of good travel, learning new things and being able to bend with the flow of it all. Can't wait to hear about the actual place & your adventures on the other side of teh tarmac!

Arkansas Patti said...

Smooth trips rarely stay in our memories. This one should be remembered quite a while. Having problems, then with no understanding of the language really makes it an adventure.
Stay safe.